Miniature Art: The Process

Tiny Concrete Fish

Reducing a concrete block to 3cm x 4cm x 5cm 

Clayhill Arts and Correspondence Collective ‘Restriction’ Exhibition: 23 March (the anniversary of the first lockdown) to 6th April 2021. 

Inspired by Mail Art and by the restrictions many of us have experienced due to Covid-19, this exhibition features new work inspired by the theme of Restriction. The chosen works are included in an exhibition of miniature pieces of artwork, displayed in a set of old letter press drawers and showcased online through livestream and video: www.clayhillarts.co.uk/livestream-of-restriction-exhibiton

My Process 

Template, always start with a template! I made a cardboard fish template, based on the form of the (much larger) concrete installation ‘Sea Breeze Blocks’. I then had to tackle the 3D constraint aspects of the process – to which I postulated: “What would Barry do?” Barry is my father-in-law and an industrial designer. (I often ask this question, or “What would Bob do?” – Bob is my Dad, an engineer). If I can remember to ask one of these, it stops me leaping in feet first (more fun, but…), and instead take a logical approach. So, I created a cardboard box of the same dimensions as my compartment (3cm x 4cm x 5cm). I then built a clay maquette to assist within the dimensions as a guide.

I wanted to try to carve the fish in the same way as the large ones, with my chisel and mallet. I could use the chisel to carve away from my template outline, but refinement was required. A mini hacksaw was made, using half a hacksaw blade, superglued into a champagne cork (always useful to have champagne corks about..!). 

I used a variety of files, even a nail file at times, to smooth the edges and reduce the proportions. There were casualties. If the space between the body and tail was too narrow, the tail snapped off (more than once). 

I created a series of six ‘longer’ fish (about 4cm long), to accommodate the fish inserted into the compartment. However, I felt they looked lost so created another series of six, to sit horizontally in the box, measuring less than 3cm in length. These had a rounder form but have flattened underneaths to ensure they are self-supporting.

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